POSTSCRIPT / February 2, 2012 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Can judiciary recover from massive damage?

BURNING QUESTION: Malacañang and the congressional prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona seem to be on the verge of burning down the house to rid it of what they think is a rat in the pantry.

This is a well-worn analogy (without meaning to liken the Chief Justice to a rat), but whether Corona is convicted or acquitted, there is fear that the judiciary may be left smoldering after the scorched-earth campaign being waged against him.

Malacañang has said in so many words that the campaign, ostensibly against corruption, will be relentless. The operation does not end with Corona’s ouster, one indication of which is that the House is already dusting off cases against other SC justices.

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HOW TO REBUILD: When the dust settles — assuming the demolition will end during the term of President Noynoy Aquino and not rage on like a forest fire – would the Supreme Court and the entire judiciary still be standing high in the public esteem despite the carpet bombing?

The purge will enable President Aquino to pack the High Court with justices who, in  his mind, are less corrupt and more cooperative to his administration.

But as Malacañang is engrossed with purging undesirable elements, it seems it has not found time to lay down a rehabilitation program for the judiciary.

We like to believe that before we tear down an institution, especially one of the three pillars of our democratic setup, we should first prepare a workable plan to rebuild it. Is there such a plan?

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DELAYED REJOINDER: On the ongoing impeachment trial, will it serve the ends of justice for the court and the extended jury of the people outside the Senate to hear mostly what the prosecution presents with occasional objections from the defense?

The prosecution has the edge of being able to brainwash the public with its one-sided presentation. By the time it is the turn of the defense to present its side several months later, there is the danger that the public has already made up its mind about the accused.

In the interest of ensuring a balanced presentation before time blurs the facts, it might be better to enable the defense to make its own presentation (on the pending article of impeachment) right after the prosecution has done its part.

The idea is to give the public the other side without further delay. But then, this is just the opinion of a non-lawyer. Obviously.

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FEF REACTION: Reacting to our Postscript last Sunday on the Aquino administration’s renewable energy program, Calixto V. Chikiamco, president of the Foundation for Economic Freedom, published in the FEF website a purported letter to our editor saying:

“(Postscript) seemed to imply that certain specific individuals are responsible for (the FEF’s) position against the current Feed-in-Tariff petition of Renewable Energy Developers before the Energy Regulatory Commission.

“Mr. Ramon del Rosario Jr. and Mr. Delfin Lazaro serve in the Board of Advisers and are not in any way responsible for the official positions of the Foundation. The official position of the FEF is adopted by members of the FEF board. Thus, no single individual, particularly Mr. Ramon del Rosario and Mr. Delfin Lazaro, who are not members of the board, is responsible for the position of FEF.

“The FEF is not, repeat not, against renewable energy. The FEF is not against renewable sources like geothermal and hydro, whose generation cost are competitive with traditional sources of energy.

“The FEF is also not against the use of renewable energy in off-grid areas, where the avoided cost of using diesel is high and it makes sense to use RE sources like solar.

“What the FEF is against is forcing Filipino consumers to pay twice the cost of conventional energy from wind and more than three times the cost of conventional energy for solar by way of a forced surcharge on Filipino power consumers. This surcharge will be paid for by Filipino consumers for 20 years even if the cost of technology goes down to guarantee a rate of return of 17 percent per annum to RE developers.

“What the FEF is also against is the awarding of RE projects under the FIT system without competitive bidding. Awarding of projects without competitive bidding is against the ‘matuwid na daan’ of President Aquino and is unfair to Filipino consumers.

“To underscore the anomaly of the present FIT petition of the RE developers before the ERC, it should be mentioned that their petition for the FIT rate for solar is P17.95 per kilowatt-hour when it is only an average of P7 per kilowatt-hour in China and India.

“We hope this makes clear that contrary to the effort to paint FEF as anti-environment, the FEF is very much for economically efficient renewable energy and loves the planet as much as environmentalists do.However, it is vehemently against any attempt to exploit the Filipino consumer under the guise of saving the planet.”

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SPEAK UP: We appreciate Chikiamco’s clarification that the big names in business mentioned in Postscript have nothing to do with his group’s throwing obstacles to the government bid to include renewable power sources into the overall power generation mix in the country.

Earlier, Nagiza Aragon Kazami, a nephew of former Labor Secretary Pat Sto. Tomas, also emailed us to say that his aunt fully “supports the government move for renewable energy as indigenous power sources.” He said “she has not been involved in any of the (FEF) activities you mentioned in your column.”

Other big names listed in documents that the FEF uses in campaigning against renewable energy should say publicly where they stand. Many of us get the misimpression that they stand four-square behind what the FEF says. Nobody should ride on their names.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 2, 2012)

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